What Is the Average Salary of a Registered Nurse?

Are you interested in finding out how much you could earn working as a registered nurse? Read on to find out more about the job duties, salary and career prospects for this career. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

Registered nurses (RNs) work in hospitals and other medical facilities, where they help care for patients. The work duties can vary greatly, especially if you have specific training or specialization. Some common duties you can expect to perform include updating patient records, assisting in diagnostic tests, administrating medication and helping with rehabilitation.

There are several education paths available to you to become an RN. You may enter into a nursing bachelor's degree program or complete an associate's degree program. Diploma and training programs at hospitals are also available. The length of these educational programs varies between 2-4 years. You must pass a licensing examination to practice in this career.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Professional Certification Voluntary certification available in specialty areas
Key Skills Critical-thinking, organizational, and speaking skills; compassion, emotional stability and physical stamina
Work Environment Healthcare facilities; some nurses travel to patients' homes
Similar Occupations Dental hygienist, physician assistant, EMT, paramedic

Salary Overview

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that RNs had a mean annual wage of $69,790 in May 2014 (www.bls.gov). Those who were in the top 10% of wage estimates had yearly incomes of $98,880 or more, while those in the bottom 10% had yearly earnings of $45,880 or less.

Salary by Industry

According to May 2014 BLS figures, the top paying industry for this career was wholesale electronic markets and agents and brokers, which paid an annual mean salary of $84,200. Insurance and employee benefit funds came in second with a mean salary of $82,030. Mean salaries for industries with high employment levels of RNs included $71,640 for general hospitals, $63,800 for physicians' offices, $67,880 for home health care services, $62,440 for nursing care facilities and $72,390 for outpatient care centers.

Salary by State

The BLS reported that states with the best mean pay for RNs in May 2014 included California ($98,400), Hawaii ($88,230), Massachusetts ($85,770), Alaska ($85,740) and Oregon ($82,940). California was also the state with the highest RN employment level at that time. States that included Iowa, Alabama, South Dakota, Kansas and Tennessee paid lower mean wages of $33,740-$57,830.

Salary by Experience

As of 2015, PayScale.com reported the following salary ranges for RNs with varying levels of experience:

  • 0-5 years: $36,590-$71,240
  • 5-10 years: $40,716-$81,342
  • 10-20 years: $43,580-$85,408
  • 20+ years: $44,340-$91,176

Job Outlook

The BLS reported that job opportunities for RNs were likely to be excellent with the total percentage of employment growth from 2014-2024 expected at 16% . This is faster than the average when compared to other occupations. It is projected that a total of about 439,300 new jobs will become available because of how large this vocation is. These job openings are expected due to a need to replace nurses who retire or leave their jobs.

Employment can vary depending on where you're located and on the industry you're working in. Industries with the highest levels of employment for registered nurses were general hospitals, physicians' offices, home health care services, nursing care facilities and outpatient care centers. The states that had the highest concentration of workers for this vocation were South Dakota, West Virginia, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Missouri.

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